The USA defeated Canada 30-25 in dramatic fashion Friday night at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, WA, getting a try at the death from Ruben de Haas to snatch victory in front of a boisterous Pacific Northwest crowd.
The Eagles showed flashes of improvement, and plenty of resilience, but were up against a Canada team that was doing much the same. It was a classic bone-jarring, nail-biting USA-Canada rivalry match.
The USA took an early lead when Canada was offside on a kick. Will Magie slotted a fairly straightforward kick made just a little harder by it being very cold, making the ball less buoyant in the air.
Canada replied almost immediately, running a series of phases into the USA 22 and bashing against the Eagle tryline for several minutes. The USA defense held for a while, but eventually a gap opened up and center Nick Blevins bulled over for the try. Flyhallf Gordon McRorie converted and Canada led 7-3.
USA Holds Edge
Back came the USA. Canada was foolishly offside on a high ball, and that allowed Magie to kick for the corner. From there, the Eagles mauled ahead, and hooker Joe Taufete’e peeled off like a boss and scored near the left-hand touchline.
That made it 8-7, and everyone knew we were in for a battle. Canada exploited another USA penalty to set up a second try, this time big No. 8 Luke Campbell doing the honors, to regain the lead as halftime loomed.
But it was then that the USA got a better sense of purpose. The Eagles ran the ball repeatedly, and weren’t distracted from Canada’s thundering defense. Slowly, using a variety of runners but with Bryce Campbell, Hanco Germishuys, Paul Lasike, and Taufete’e doing a chunk of the work, the USA got close to the line. Finally, a nice flat pass to Cam Dolan saw the No. 8 touch down, and the Eagles re-took the lead—15-12 with Magie’s conversion.
That awarded the momentum to the Eagles at halftime, and in the second half, it seemed they would build on that. Another attacking lineout led once more to Taufete’e surging over. This was his 20th try for the USA, making him only the second USA player (along with Vaea Anitoni) to score 20 or more tries in test matches.
Back came Canada. Led by scrumhalf Phil Mack, who was the team’s spark plug, and with flanker and captain Lucas Rumball leading from the front, they once again went phase after phase after phase deep inside the USA 22. Eventually it paid off, as Campbell against blasted through, and McRori converted to make it 20-19 USA.
Canada’s defense remained staunch, and while they conceded a penalty, that Magie slotted, the Canadians stymied the USA repeatedly, forcing turnovers and knock-ons come to the line.
Down 23-19, the Canadians got two kickable penalty chances. McRorie was good on both, the second, from about 43 meters away, barely cleared the bar, and put his side ahead 25-23.
With time winding down, the USA seemed to have one more shot. On as a sub for Tuafete, Kapeli Pifeleti ghosted through a gap and was almost gone. But the Eagles couldn’t capitalize.
With just a couple of minutes left, the Eagles took one more crack at it. Te’o zipped his way through, and then the USA consolidated, with Olive Kilifi, subbing on in front of his home crowd, making several important carries.
Slowly the Eagles worked their way down to the line, and over, only for referee Pablo DeLuca to call the ball as held up. With only a few seconds left in the game, the USA had one more attacking scrum. The good news for the USA, however, was that lock Kyle Baillie was in the sin bin for a repeat infringement. That offered the USA a chance to attack the scrum, and with Kilifi combining with Pifeleti and Dino Waldren to anchor that front row, the Eagles shoved the Canadian pack backward.
With the referee’s arm out for a penalty advantage, the USA had a free play, and took it. Ruben de Haas, on for the injured Shaun Davies at scrumhalf, picked uptake ball, sold an outrageous dummy, and soared over for the game-winning try. Tadgh Leader capped it all off with the conversion, and the Eagles had won.
For Canada, it was a step forward and a braver performance. For the Seattle-area, it was proof again that they love their rugby, flooding Starfire despite frigid temperatures to urge on their Eagles. And for the USA national team, this was a chance to right some wrongs and reward their fans. Job done. On to the next job.
Tries: Taufete’e 2, Dolan, De Haas
Convs: Magie, Leader
Pens: Magie 2
Men’s Eagles Starting Roster | vs Canada
1. David Ainuu
2. Joe Taufete'e
Worcester Warriors (ENG)
3. Paul Mullen
4. Ben Landry
Ealing Trailfinders (ENG)
5. Nick Civetta
Doncaster Knights (ENG)
6. John Quill
Rugby United New York
7. Hanco Germishuys
8. Cam Dolan
9. Shaun Davies
10. Will Magie
11. Mike Te'o
San Diego Legion
12. Paul Lasike
13. Bryce Campbell
London Irish (ENG)
14. Blaine Scully (C)
Cardiff Blues (WAL)
15. Marcel Brache
Western Force (AUS)
Men’s Eagles Reserves
San Diego Legion
For Taufete'e @66
For Ainuu @58
London Irish (ENG)
For Mullen @77
For Civette @60
For Dolan @58
Ruben de Haas
Free State Cheetahs (RSA)
For Davies @55
New England Free Jacks
For Magie @78
Tries: Blevins, Campbell 2
Convs: McRorie 2
Pens: McRorie 2
Canada Lineup To Face USA:
1. Hubert Buydens – (NOLA Gold) Saskatoon, SK
2. Benoit Piffero – (Blagnac Sporting Club) Montreal, QC
3. Cole Keith – (Toronto Arrows) Sussex, NB
4. Conor Keys – (Rotherham Titans) Stittsville, ON
5. Kyle Baillie – (NOLA Gold) Summerside, PEI
6. Justin Blanchet – (Bedford Blues) Montreal, QC
7. Lucas Rumball – Captain (Toronto Arrows) Scarborough, ON
8. Luke Campbell – (James Bay AA) Victoria, BC
9. Phil Mack – (Seattle Seawolves) Victoria, BC
10. Gordon McRorie – (Calgary Hornets) Calgary, AB
11. Kainoa Lloyd – (Toronto Arrows) Mississauga, ON
12. Nick Blevins – (Calgary Hornets) Calgary, AB
13. Ben LeSage – (UBC) Vancouver, BC
14. Andrew Coe – (Markham Irish) Toronto, ON
15. Theo Sauder – (Toronto Arrows) Vancouver, BC
16. Jordan Olsen – (Northland) Whangarei, NZ
17. Noah Barker – (Glendale Raptors) Courtenay, BC
18. Ryan Kotlewski – (Westshore RFC) Calgary, AB
19. Josh Larsen – (Austin Elite) Parksville, BC
20. Dustin Dobravsky – (Castaway Wanderers) Hanover, Germany
21. Jamie Mackenzie – (Toronto Arrows) Oakville, ON
22. Pat Parfrey – (Unattached) St. John’s, NL
23. Doug Fraser – (Austin Elite) Ladysmith, BC